The Effort of Release

I often hear people say that it takes them till about day 3 to wind down on a vacation and thoroughly enjoy it. I used to experience that as well many years ago before I really was able to check-in and connect to the felt sense of release in my body and the effort it takes to release the mind. Yes, it takes a great deal of hard work and effort to truly feel release, at least in the beginning.

I say in the beginning meaning in the beginning of tuning inward. In meditation we call the experience of tuning inward and going inward toward a concentrated mind, the dropping-in experience. What one may find when first starting to meditate is the great effort it sometimes takes to drop-in. It takes time after one closes the eyes to concentrate on the breath, the silence, and the busy mind. But over time, with great effort and practice, this dropping-in experience becomes easier and easier to the point that all one needs to do is close the eyes and you are there.

But until then there is effort, effort in attending, effort in concentration, and effort in stilling. On this path I encourage attention to the body as the first step in this path of effort. Take a comfortable seat and just simply close your eyes. Attend to this simple act of opening and then closing your eyes once again. Take notice of how just taking away the sense organ of sight immediately begins to signal the brain to slow down and tune inward. Just this simple act over time helps in this dropping in experience. The next time you open your eyes take in the visuals around you, close your eyes and now “see” the images and try to let them fade away as you attend just to your breath. Watch each one disappear so all you are left attending to is your breath. Now just notice the minds natural tendency to want to drift away and entertain story. Keep gently calling it back to your breath, just your breath and the sensation of breath in your body.

Watch what happens over time if you put the effort into this release. Over time the effort becomes less and less until it just is.

May all beings live in peace and ease.

Disappointment or Delusion?

Well, I must admit, this morning I initially was in just as much clinging and craving for a snow day as my kids! But there was not a snowflake to be found. The night before, I found myself, like my kids, longing for a day where I would be home all day. I envisioned making a cup of tea and writing away at my dissertation. I noticed how I started to plan it all in my mind. A whole day is a luxury to me. I was also looking forward to being in the same house as all three kids with everyone in that lazy mode, calm energy. We rarely have that. It is a bit frenetic around here with three teenagers.

When the alarm went off at 6am I quickly checked the phone for school closings and looked out the window to see the street barren of snow. Oh well. This is what it is and I quickly moved on while those around me held on tight. I heard complaints all morning from my kids, disappointment, and negative energy. It is tough for a young person to gather the idea of letting go. I sometimes wonder if their teenage brains are even equipped to take in the “Dharma.” Seriously, even Buddha was older when he came to enlightenment!

I do believe wisdom and the passing of age helps a great deal in one’s ability to let go, accept, and move on. I read somewhere the other day that “wisdom is just pain understood.” I really do believe that. And I do believe the older we get the more we understand that, and the more capable we are of turning it around to that vision as opposed to the teenage brain that is meant to divide and be in binary thought process. While they left the house in divided ideas, “this day sucks!” I left the house ready to teach my yoga class on this theme of rigidity in mind. How can we learn about fixed mind moments, and preconceived ideas through our body?

Our body is the master teacher of the mind if we allow it to be. We can use so many areas, aches and pains of the body to teach and explore metaphysically what happens in the mind. I decided to focus the class on  the six movements of the spine (forward, backwards, twisting, and lateral movement) as a way to embody freedom and movement as opposed to rigidity. We felt what it is like to feel stiff and rigidly fixed in our body and what it then feels like to feel free and in movement. Try it out.

Begin by coming to hands and knees. As you inhale, look upward and allow your tailbone to lift, as you exhale tuck the head and tailbone as you round pressing into your hands and drawing your naval in toward your spine. Continue this simple movement, along with the breath for several rounds with your eyes closed. Now let your hips sway to the right and look toward your hips. Come back to center and allow your hips to sway to your left and look to your hips on the left. Continue this motion for several rounds with your eyes closed. Just tune in to the embodied experience of movement in your spine and notice now if you can call to mind a particular thought that you often remain fixed on. See what happens if you attempt to remain fixed on that thought while at the same time your body is moving freely. What you may notice is that it is challenging to hold on in mind when the body feels free.

I often say, rigid body=rigid mind.

May All Beings Be Free and at Ease

Intention and Compassion

I finally was able to do the workshop I had planned for the New Year. I was able to do it one week later after recovering from being ill. The practice of compassion is needed more than ever now. Everywhere we turn there is another story of division, hatred, greed, and harm. I had a discussion about this with my teenage kids who are all on the brink of losing faith in humanity as they learn and read about the state of the world today. It is so difficult to restore faith and trust in the teenage mind, which naturally divides into good and bad, to begin with, let alone after they learn of another terrorist killing somewhere.

The bottom line is I told them for as many people that hold hatred in mind there are triple that amount, if not more, that hold compassion and love in mind and deeply wish and want that toward themselves and others and in the world. It does come down to what we want to see, what we want life to look like and be like. That is where intention comes in. The Buddha taught that before action comes thought, before thought comes intention. What do you want to manifest? If it is peace and love than we are responsible for watching the thoughts we hold. Do they follow this path? Are you manifesting peace and love and self-compassion for yourself? If we live in self-harming thoughts and/or behaviors you can bet that eventually those thoughts and behaviors will find their way out and about into the world. Eventually they will influence how we act.

Compassion is quite the opposite energy. It is the holder, the mover, and the action-former. When we hold compassion toward ourselves, we allow for our human nature, our foibles, and our fears. Because we allow for them, we are able to face them, look them straight on and intend for something better. Intention and compassion go together. I call self-compassion the “re-set” button. It is the thing that allows you a “do-over.” You have a human right to fall. You also have the right to get back up and start over, and let go of what once was.

This week the embodied practice is Metta. Metta means love in Pali. It is a meditation that engages you in the repetitive words of care, compassion and love. It holds the intention that with continued practice, and with the intention of kindness that overtime that is exactly what will grow. Metta should be practiced daily. The full practice takes approximately 20 minutes. If you can only do one portion than do that. As always, some is better than none.

Words of Metta:

(repeat each set of phrases 5x for each category)

Begin with offering the words to yourself:

May I be safe, protected

May I be healthy and strong

May I find may way through life’s suffering

May I live in peace and ease

Call to mind a teacher, mentor, someone who has influenced you. Repeat the words holding him/her in mind.

May you…

Call to mind someone you love. This can be animal friends as well as people. Repeat the words holding him/her/them in mind.

May you…

Call to mind someone neutral, someone you do not know very well. Repeat the words holding this person in mind.

May you…

Call to mind someone who annoys, angers, triggers you. Even with the most difficult of emotions see if you can offer out the words of kindness to him/her.

May you also…

The last category is all living beings. Include in this our environment, our earth, our universe. All that is seen and unseen knowing that we are all connected.

May all beings…

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND EASE

The Space Between The Thoughts

When a thought ends, and before the next one begins, there is an open opportunity for exploration. Have you ever wondered or paid attention to the fine-tuning of the mind? It is not an easy thing to do and it is why Buddha encouraged the deep focus on the mind to come after there has been deep attention and focus on the first two Foundations of Mindfulness, which are body/breath and emotions. Mind and mind moments/impermanence follow as the third and fourth foundations. So, how can we begin to train ourselves in this mindful attention while knowing that it will be a challenge to delve directly into the nature of the mind?

We can begin with the first foundation breath and body/bodily sensations. When I teach a yoga class and do my own asana (posture) practice, I encourage the focus on paying attention to when we reach a sensation in the body that “wakes us up.” Often in yoga we call this the “edge” of a sensation. It is the point of the sensation leading to the questions can I be with this? Can I sustain this? Should I sustain this? Should I let go and find another way? The point being, it is the edge that makes you question. This is a good thing. It may not always be a comfortable space in your body but the arising of sensation, particularly the edge of sensation leads us to question. It moves us into self-inquiry, and self-inquiry is what is needed to go further to the deeper attention to mind and the development of mindfulness.

To explore the edge of sensation I often like to focus on an area of the body that I know is one that for most of us will be a challenge. Areas that are usually tight to begin with are the ones that offer the most opportunity in fine-tuning where to go and how to move and how to stay and/or release. The hamstrings are one of those areas. I encourage you to come to lying on your back and have with you either a yoga strap or a few ties tied together. Something that is long enough for you to reach your foot when your leg is outstretched. Lying down lift your right leg and place the strap under the sole of your foot. Begin to bend your knee and straighten. Keep doing this a few times over and over. Then leave the leg straight, inhale and walk your hands up the strap as you reach your forehead toward your leg. As you exhale come on back down. Keep this movement going between the inhale lifting up and the exhale lowering. At the same time begin to fine-tune your inquiry. Notice when you reach the edge of a sensation. At what point do you first feel it? Can you sustain the hold or is it beyond the edge for you? Do you need to modify it, let it go? Keep the inquiry going. What can you notice, what can you learn?

You can practice this line of questioning with all areas of your body (especially on the mat) as a way to awaken into mindfulness and keeping your attention to the moment. If we do not take sensation to the edge we have the tendency to drift away and get lost in thought. Over the edge, and we are in fear and protective mode, which blocks awareness and inquiry. This embodied practice of the First Foundation sets the stage for deeper awareness. After we gain awareness through the body we can move on to awareness of emotions and understanding when we are at the edge of an emotion. It then sets the stage for opening the door to questions such as, what is the space between the thoughts? You do not have to answer this one now. Just keep coming back to your body for the practice of the first step and trust that with practice the awareness will follow.

May All Beings Live In Peace and Ease

Responsibility and Self-Compassion

January 2, 2015 and I had scheduled a 2 hour workshop at the yoga studio on Intention and Compassion for the New Year. I was so excited to lead this workshop, as it is probably two of my favorite topics. After all, I am always discussing the importance of intention setting and compassion is one of my favorite practices to teach. The day before, New Years day, I was feeling very ill. The current flu-like thing going around hit my body hard and I knew I was not going to be physically able to teach the following day. I was very attuned to what my body was telling me yet my mind was preoccupied and focused on the many students I would let down and disappoint by not showing up. Therefore, instead of cancelling the night before I waited till the last possible minute on the 2nd to call for a replacement. I knew I did the right thing as I spent most of the day in bed recuperating. My body was certainly appreciative yet my mind was still preoccupied with feeling responsible for disappointing others. Wow. I sat in awe watching my mental process unfold between guilt, disappointment, feeling badly, and feeling responsible.

It immediately struck me as the revisiting of an old familiar theme this feeling responsible. It is one that I can clearly feel in my own body, the heaviness in my shoulders, the tension that builds in my neck. I knew staying home was the most compassionate thing for me to do for myself. I do try, as much as I can, to practice what I preach. Therefore, I knew I also needed to hold this lesson compassionately as well. I saw it as an opportunity to relearn once again.

What leads us to feel so responsible for others? A perfectly competent teacher took over for me that day. I am sure the 30 students that showed had a fine experience. Granted they may not have had what they thought they were going to have but nonetheless I am sure they had a fine experience. I realized a great deal of feeling so responsible comes from the ego. There is an ego grasp that says somehow somewhere he, she, they will not be o.k. without me. The idea that others will not be o.k. without us, whether we are aware of it or not, festers in our mind and body and grows. It grows large and often lingers in the body as the many aches and pains that we feel. We often carry the weight of others but it is time to ask for what reason? Is it that if we let this idea of responsibility go that we may also have to let go a little bit of ego at the same time? I have noticed that letting go of the responsibility of others, while very freeing on the one hand, also creates a little bit of sadness on the other. My relearning lies in this area. Can I step away and be with the sadness that I may not be needed as much as I think I am? It is not the easiest of questions/awareness’s to be with. Yet, if we do not ask the question we tend to act from feeling responsible toward others rather than from the truth. Had I decided to push my body that day and show up, it would have been exactly that. Just showing up in body but not in heart. Instead, when we attend to the truth, we attend to the heart, and from there we show the compassion for both others and ourselves.

I encourage you the next time you feel that “heaviness of the world” upon your shoulders to ask the questions, who in fact put it there and what would happen if I was to let it go? Maybe you can even allow yourself to let your shoulders fall, take a nap, and let someone else take over for a while.

Grasping

I am in the middle of my doctoral research right now and started to notice how badly I am looking forward to finishing this work. After all, I have been at it for years now, have given up a great deal to go for this degree, and am ready to take some downtime. However, I have just begun to sit with mounds and mounds of data to analyze so the truth is I am nowhere near done. I know this yet my mind was unwilling to let go of the grasp into the future and where I wish to go.

The first place I recognized this grasp was in my body. All week long I noticed the tension build in my back and neck. I could feel the discomfort and noticed it was there yet I struggled to let it go. It led me to contemplate on grasping and what this means in mind and body. It is one thing to plan for the future and to hope for something. It is another to cling onto and grasp as if life or who you are depended on it. Grasping is a quality of the ego that leads us away from the present moment into the future. It consumes a great deal of mental, emotional and physical energy as we concentrate on where we wish to be, rather than where we currently are, right here, right now. The Buddhist view of grasping is attachment. We often attach when we are in desire of something, someone. Desire moves us away from the moment and consumes the mind in search of, rather than in awareness. I often have my yoga students recognize how this shows up on the mat in their practice. For those of you who have ever done yoga you will know what I mean. Many students come into the class hoping and wanting and wishing for a certain experience, whether it is a good release, a rest, a workout. Whatever it may be. Then come the ideas of wanting and wishing for the teacher to instruct a certain favorite pose. All this mental energy consumed by desire, by the grasping of what we hope for rather than the ability to step back and see and feel what unfolds, what is. As often we learn the most from what we are resisting, not what comes easily.

This is such a challenging concept to be with, and to embody. To release my mental grasp I literally went “upside down.” I decided that the only way I could release the grasp of grasping was to turn it all around and flip it all. So, I found myself in headstand. I concentrated on my breath, my core strength and then slowly released. As I sat in the release the rest of my body released. All the tension began to fade as I had a good cry and let go of the expectations and desires. A headstand may not be necessary for you however, I do challenge you to be in your body in a way that you are not used to as a way to embody the idea of grasping and what you may be clinging to. Watch how your mind will fight and initially resist a new way. Meet the resistance rather than fight it. Embrace it with compassion and remind yourself that if you wish to reach a future intention that you must come back to now, as the future is dependent on now, not what will be.

May all beings live in peace and ease.

The Marriage of Fear and Worry

Fear is a primal emotion. It is an emotion that when present, often leads to us lose our grounding. It can propel us back into old habits of relating, old destructive thought patterns, and behaviors. Most of all, even when the felt sense subsides, our body is left with a host of “leftovers” to deal with.

When fear arises the sympathetic nervous system fires up, rightfully so, preparing the body for either a flight, fight or freeze response. It is a primal emotion due to this very visceral response. The body has no way of knowing where the fear is stemming from. In other words, does it really need to tighten and prepare for attack as if your life depends on it? The body does not differentiate. It will release the same hormones, and tighten in the same areas as IF it were under attack. Part of the reason this is so, is due to the area of the brain where this visceral response takes place. The back of the brain, or our “reptilian brain” is not about rational responses. It is about the most primal of responses. Therefore, rational processing is not taking place. As a matter of fact, when fear is heightened, our ability to process and rationalize slows down, yet our heart rate, and rate of respiration increase. With this increase comes along muscular tightening.

I would like you for a moment to consider how often you are in fear. I know the quick response may be, oh not often, just when it is a major event. But now consider the less obvious, such as, how often are you preoccupied in worry? Worry is a habitual response pattern in the mind born from fear. Is it the same primal fear we may feel when under attack? Not necessarily, however, worry is less obvious. Meaning it is insidious in the way it builds, preoccupies, and lands in the body over time. It lingers and erodes. All experiences land in our body. The term issue in the tissues is for a good reason. Worry, over time, builds up in our tissues, especially in areas of the lower half of the body, our psoas muscle, our hips, our low back. These are the primal areas of the body, the areas that are most vulnerable, most in need of protection, when we feel afraid. As we engage in a worried mind day after day we can be assured that these areas are holding, tightening, and reacting.

Releasing the worried mind takes much practice. Worry is about the past and the future. It is never about the exact moment. Here is where we can call in the body for assistance in breaking the “worry chain.” Take a breath, close your eyes, and notice all the worries moving through your mind, a stream of worry, one after the next. Now, with your next breath scan your body and feel where each worry “lives” in your body. This may be very evident as attention is usually drawn to the most obvious places of tension first. Notice these areas and now take a big breath in through your nose and let it release through your mouth. Now rescan and this time search for the areas not under tension. Search for the areas that feel neutral. This may take some effort, as the conditioned mind will want to go right back to what bothers us, or what feels really good, rather than what feels neutral. Keep this scan happening over and over until you keep landing in the neutral zone. This embodied experiential is a great little exercise in retraining a worried mind from the past and the future to right here, right now concentrated on the non-attached place of neutrality, offering the mind a break from the habitual worry chain of events and retraining it into the present moment.

May all beings live in peace and ease.

HOLIDAY “DETOX”

During this time of year I often hear folks talking about the need to “detox” their bodies from all the excess consumption of food, alcohol, and whatever else may have been added into the body. I get it. There is the felt need to move the body and somehow “release” all that stuff. I even teach post-holiday yoga classes on this theme and we do many twists and other postures that help the digestive system along. There is definitely the felt sense of getting back to neutral after we work the body. There is the illusion that we have somehow “gotten rid” of something. I guess the question to ask is what have we gotten rid of? Is it really the felt sense of fullness to rid or the extra piece of pumpkin pie, the extra glass of wine?  Or is it what we have held in mind about it all?

I call the mind the great trickster. It is full of illusions about experiences of the past or the fears of the future. So therefore, after a day/night of indulgence, even after the body has settled and come back to neutral, the mind is still attached. It is still attached to what was, what you wished you had done, and critical thought of how it should have been. When in reality, those moments are gone. It is the critical mind that will prevent you from moving on, moving forward, and making present choices that will support you in going forward.

The critical mind also blocks one of the most important components of self-growth, compassion. When we indulge, and “over consume” critical thought, we leave ourselves depleted, and blocked from seeing any ability for change and/or growth. Critical thought blocks all learning, or wisdom. We become stuck both in body and in mind. Compassion, on the other hand, is spacious. It allows for growth and movement. It involves cleansing through acceptance, facing what is, and moving forward. The Buddha spoke of compassion, Karuna as the alleviation of suffering. He also taught that compassion and wisdom go together. They are the two wings of the bird. One needs the other. Therefore, when critical thought is present, it is not enough to just replace it with a kind thought. One must recognize it, have some wisdom about it and then offer self-compassion.

When it comes to detoxing the body, maybe instead of grabbing for a special diet, cleanse, food group, exercise, etc., instead, become curious about the nature of your mind. What is being held there that needs to be detoxed? What old, patterned thoughts need to be cleared? What old, critical mind-sets are rotting your mind and body? To embody this teaching, sit down with your sitting bones planted firmly into the ground. Straighten both legs and now cross your right leg over your left. Reach your arms up above and twist to your right with your left arm hugging your right leg and your right hand planted gently behind you. Deeply inhale, straighten your spine, and twist a little more, allowing your right side rib cage to move toward the right and your eye gaze in line with your torso. Ask yourself, what do I feel in my body right now? What sensations do I notice? What am I releasing in my body right now? What do I need to let go of and restore? Repeat this with the left leg feeling the benefit of the twist in your body and how your body appreciates the assistance to its muscles, bones and organs. This time, question what do I need to let go of in mind to rebalance and restore? What is blocking my growth and the letting in of compassion and wisdom? How may I treat my body and mind with more compassion, wisdom, and ease?

Never again will we detox the body unless we are also planning to detox the mind!

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND EASE

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

I often hear folks say, “I just need to find what makes me happy.” Happiness, and its pursuit is a major goal in life. After all, even our Declaration of Independence states we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The word pursuit, by definition, means to go in search of. I often find that is what happens around happiness, whether it be in relationship, job, or material objects. We are in search of until we find and then guess what? We are usually in search of once again. A metaphor often used to describe the cycle of desire and pursuit is the dangling carrot in front of the donkey and the donkey following the carrot as it’s not quite within his reach, but he’s almost there. Another metaphor I think of is when I watch my cat play with the laser toy that he loves so much. This make-believe “lightning bug” he thinks he is chasing looks like it will be just in his reach so he places a big paw on it, and it magically disappears only for him to now find it on his back paw! How did it get there? How can I get it again? When will I ever get it and keep it? These are the questions we ask about happiness all the time. As often, when we feel happy we are not even aware of how we achieved that state. The interesting thing I found out about my cat and that laser toy is that it is not healthy for them to play too long with it as since they never get to make a true catch, they actually become quite frustrated and agitated. Hum, interesting as we humans are left in the same cycle of suffering when we are on our own pursuit of the magic laser beam of constant happiness. Once we “catch it” we want it again and again and again. Desire breeds more desire.

Why the constant cycle? Well, much of it has to do with the fact that we believe life should contain a great deal, if not, a constant stream of happiness. With this belief, we begin the search. When we are in the search we are focused on where we want to go or what we wish to get and often miss out on what is right in front of us now. It is the moments of joy that exist in front of us that we lose when we concentrate on the moments of joy we hope to get. If we begin to look at moments of happiness, rather than an end pursuit we may actually find that happiness lies in the smallest of places and is with us all the time if we are open to see.

The Buddhist term sukha or ease is a state of flourishing that arises from mental balance and insight into the nature of what is, or current moment to moment reality. It can be defined as a state of happiness that is enduring as it arises from a mind that is in balance or equanimity, not from an attached mind that is full of desire. To achieve sukha a transformation of consciousness is needed. This can be achieved through mindfulness and sustained training in attention. How do we begin a path to mindfulness? Well, we can begin with turning our attention and focus to the first foundation of mindfulness, through the use of our breath and body.

How do we embody joy and happiness? Spend a moment contemplating all you have done today as you read this. I mean really think back to the moment your eyes opened and you took a breath and noticed yourself “awake.” From there you went about your busy day without much thought to how you got there and the role your body played. See if right now you can take a moment to be curious about all your body has done today. I don’t mean in “working out,” but just in assisting you through your daily motions and routines. It may sound like nothing but trust me it is something. It is something to start to be mindful of what we do have. Now I know some of you reading this may say, yes, but I do not like my body as it gives me distress and/or pain. Well, that is information as well. We may not always find what is to be pleasant, however, it is still the truth and it is what is with you right now. You do not need to grasp and pursue and work so hard. Rather, you can find joy and happiness in the simple fact that, even with pain or discomfort you can still find a breath. Your breath is still breathing your body and reminding you of the moment of being alive. It is moments that we cultivate into happiness, joy, and equanimity.

May you continue to CULTIVATE joy, happiness, and equanimity.

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND EASE

THE BODY AND HAPPINESS

Because suffering is impermanent, that is why we can transform it.
Because happiness is impermanent, that is why we have to nourish it.

-TNH, 10th June 2014

These are beautiful words written by Thich Nach Hahn. The great leader on compassion has written a great deal about the transformation of suffering and how our body can assist us along this path of discovery, compassion and the nourishment of happiness.

Thich Nach Hahn asks us to contemplate for a moment what happens when there is pain in the body, such as a splinter in your foot. Immediately, without any thought a hand reaches down to assist the foot, either in removing the splinter and/or in comforting the foot by holding it, rubbing it, etc. It happens in a split second this signal to the brain of protection and survival. Well, what would happen if we actually spent the time to focus on this kind of communication that exists in our body that is happening all the time? What if we did start to pay attention to the flow of compassion that one part of our body has toward another? The inner workings that sooth, comfort, balance, and support one another?

The truth is we have an amazing teacher of compassion that is with us each and everyday, yet most of us tend to not even notice. Or if we do we are too caught up in what I call the “surface image” of the body, i.e.: what it looks like, as opposed to what it can do and how it functions. We often lose sight of the miracle that it is and all it does day after day to keep us alive and offer us the gift of presence, the ability to love and be loved, and the ability to be alive in all feelings, whether they be ones of suffering or ones of great happiness. Now, we all know that our body is impermanent. We often know this too well, either through sickness and/or from fears of sickness, and through the loss of those we love. The body clearly reminds us of our impermanent state. This is not an easy thing to accept is it? The problem I find is that most folks get stuck here. Stuck in the concentration of the impermanent state of the body, not as a vehicle to propel themselves back into the present, but rather as a force that propels them into desperation of hanging on to the body as if it will last forever.

You know what I mean by that “lasting forever” piece. We have all gone there. Anti-aging, diets to promote longevity, vitamins, etc. I am a huge proponent of it all, however, as long as we understand that the more we are focusing on the “prevention” of the inevitable impermanence of this body, the more we may be losing sight of it’s present gifts. The gifts of the moment such as the inner compassionate workings; it’s ability to move you through exercise; it’s ability to restore and rest in sleep; the amazing ability your brain has in remembering all it needs to remember. Those are just a few.

So here is a simple little embodied exercise around appreciating the gifts and “happiness” that our body can teach us day to day. When you wake up and take a breath see if you can fell what that breath feels like in your body. Can you actually picture the air bathing each organ? Can you feel what happens in your chest cavity, your rib cage? How about the difference a big breath makes in your energy level?

Now as you step out of bed, can you attend to the coordination on movement between your legs and feet? If your body is compromised in this way, can you attend to how it has learned to work with the compromise? Have your arms learned to do more because perhaps your legs are not working the way they used to? Attend to what you normally do not attend to and see what happens as far as suffering around this body or the transcendence of suffering into happiness, contentment, compassion, and surprise. How can you continue to nourish happiness in your body today?

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND EASE